Saturday, November 23, 2013

When a mentor becomes a predator....

This appeared in Mumbai Mirror...
              What happens when a mentor turns predator?
 I have been a working woman most of my adult life. Today, I have four daughters in the work place. I  have been very fortunate in that I managed to take my safety and security in the office entirely for granted and have come through without having to deal with a single unpleasant incident that could’ve scarred me for life. Can my daughters (and millions of working women across India), hope for the same? Going by several recent encounters of the unsavoury kind, the answer is obvious. Not because men have changed. But the times have. Women in an earlier zamana were conditioned by society’s lop- sided rules to shut up and put up if  the boss was acting ‘forward’ ( that was the strongest term used for what was and remains, nothing short of sexual harassment). Even mothers would advise daughters to change –  their way of dressing,  behavior, thinking. The unspoken message was unambiguous: men will be men. The boss is your superior. He can get you fired. You will lose your job. What then?
 Well, we now have the answer. And the answer is pretty simple : Speak up!This is exactly what Tarun Tejpal’s 18-year-old victim did. She plucked up the courage to nail her mentor/boss after she was ( allegedly) sexually assaulted by Tejpal (58), on two separate occasions at what has become an annual pilgrimage for the country’s intellectual elite – the THINK Fest in Goa. Let’s leave it to the Goa police to decide what happens next as per the law of the land. The incriminating CCTV footage is with them. And, of course, there is Tejpal’s own admission and apology. Without delving into lurid details,  but going by what is already in the public domain, it is safe to conclude that the 18- year-old employee (whose best friend happens to be Tejpal’s daughter), was traumatized enough to provide a detailed account of what happened inside an elevator, with a man who was not just her boss/ mentor, but also her father’s friend. A man she looked up to, admired and most importantly, trusted.  Here is the most disturbing part of the sordid saga. What were the victim’s options at that critical point when she had to get into the elevator with this figure of authority? Should she have refused to travel in the same elevator car, sensing the man’s intentions? Pressed the alarm bell? Complained to hotel security? Rushed to the police the next morning? Come on… how many inexperienced young girls would have the presence of mind to take any of those steps? She did what any frightened person would do – she spoke about her awful, emotionally shattering experience to her friends, and later to her family. That she must have been shell-shocked, is a given. That she must also have felt pretty powerless right after the attack, is understandable. It took the victim a few days to write an email to her Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhary. What happened subsequently with Ms. Chaudhary , need not be gone into here. The bald truth is staring us in the face – a mentor preyed on the vulnerability of a young, female employee and abused his power. Period. It is not an uncommon story. Predictably enough, the  trickle of  support Tejpal received was primarily  from other men -  his cronies.  That’s how most Boys’ Clubs operate around the world. Members immediately close ranks and stand by the accused man. No thought is spared for the woman who has been assaulted and humiliated.
Perhaps, this particular incident signals the beginning of the end of this form of female subjugation in the work place. The brave young victim chose to go public with what was a beastly attack on her, by a man she considered a father figure. There are thousands of women caught in similar situations. Forget committees and enquiries. Forget legalese and officialese. All those take time and test the patience of victims and their families. The first and most effective thing to do is expose the assaulter. Show zero tolerance. Go to the police. Demand justice. Shame the predator publicly. It is your dignity. Your life.

 No more suffering in silence!


muhammad usman said...

I once heard that trust man only if he is under tons of soil.

sadiq patel said...

NOW the time has come that Women should come out with brave heartedly , more such instances disclosed in public, more women will encourage to show zero tolerance against such inhuman assault.

Anonymous said...


Now we have a new term: tor-mentor!

And shame on Tarun Tejpal.

I had put this one out almost two days ago.

Arv Singh said...

I am shocked at the reaction of Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Choudhury as their bevavior contradicts what they and Tehelka stood for.

But why do Indian men behave like this? I would like to share my thoughts with malice ...

Latha said...

As expected you did not show the vehemence & anger you showed for the CBI director's remark & did not assault 'your friend Tarun Tejpal' as you did him. You did not ask him to resign from Tehelka as you did with the former. It is not 'allegedly' sexually assaulted by Tejpal. He has admitted to the crime more than once. Once it is "A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation". Next it is "......led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on Nov 7 and 8, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me." Next it is "Consensual". Another time it is "A drunken banter". You call it 'allegedly' ? The b@$t@rd doesn't deserve a 'benefit of doubt'. His friends like Javed Akhtar may admire him for speaking the truth. But his so called "truth" varies everyday. A man who can do this to his daughter's friend & a friend's daughter has no respect for women. For him women are only a piece of meat.
The Goa police has got the CCTV footage ? They have stated clearly that there was no camera in the elevator where all this happened. The victim's family is intimidated by Tejpal's family. God knows whether the rumour making rounds in the internet that Kapil Sibal is his maternal uncle is true or not. If true, God save the girl.
This tor-mentor should be taught a lesson he would not forget in his life & would not dare to look at another girl 'that way'. Fortunately he is in India. In Saudi Arabia he wouldn't be alive today. But he wouldn't have dared to even think of doing this had he been a Saudi citizen !

Anonymous said...


Three minor points.

1. Saudi Arabia had played host to Idi Amin - a Tarun Tejpal raised to the power of infinity - who not only raped women, but also ate them!

2. Saudi Arabia is also home to Zinedine Ben Ali - the former dictator of Tunisia - who more or less did the same thing as Idi Amin.

3. Your vehemence about Shobhaa De is perhaps, somewhat misplaced. Sometimes, journalists would wish to cover their backsides because everyone knows how powerfully connected Tarun Tejpal is. Nevertheless, someone with the credibility of Shobhaa has said something clear. May be you ought to see what she said live on television. And here is something I wrote on the matter:

Karanvir Kour said...

Speak up!!!! that's what we need now

NAT said...

Have written a similar comment elsewhere and drawn flak from even close friends, as they feel that i am against men.Can I, when i am a man myself.
But I always like to call a spade a spade and never a shovel.
Why can't we understand. Why can't we spell out the truth. That A man is an animal, who cannot be trusted with any woman alone.
And when he is drunk, even a stick with a frock will do.
Especially us sex starved Indians.
Walk on any street of this lovely City which was once a peaceful and so very safe for girls/women/ladies. They maul even a girl/woman/lady who is covered from head to toe. They don't even spare 3 and 5 year old babies.
These Bs like Tejpal put it down to being drunk. Let me tell U that all the truth comes out when these Bs are drunk.
These p.... should go to the shanks and remove their frustration, instead of spoiling young girls.
If any man out here says I am talking bull. Then he is a liar. Because being a man I am sailing in the same boat. We cannot be a Swami Vivekananda.
However like me there are thousands who have worked around this situation and trained ourselves/themselves to behave with the fairer sex.
It is the up bringing that counts the most.
Have seen parents who encourage their boys to harass the females, especially during holi. They call it fun. But when u tell them can we have fun with ur women folk in the same way....
Integrity and worse still education is not a certificate for for being a HUMAN being.
Here education teaches one only to make money and f society.
One can see how the educated are? the most uncivilized bs on this planet, even with the so called certs. that they have. Mind u one can even buy a certificate at that.
The only solution is to train the boys from young that they should respect their sisters, and treat others like they would treat their own.
They should have some feelings for their parents. Think not twice but a hundred times before making this choice.
What would it be like, if she was my own daughter, sister or wife.
Come on u HUMANE.
Enjoy, have a good time. Nobody is objecting, but not at the cost of an innocent.
This animal committed the crime twice. So he is as good or worse than those Delhi bus drivers, cleaners and all who did that innocent child so much harm, that she is no more.
And for those women's organisation. It is a shame. They only want to come in the limelight. They never bother about the small issues that really matter, as they will not get any publicity.
They should work from grass root level and not only for top ranking society.
It is a shame women who put woman down like in this case.
She was so afraid of loosing her job, so she asked the innocent girl to keep quiet, instead of encouraging her to take action.

NAT said...

@ Mr.TVS Hari

Have been reading u well and taken quite a liking to what u say.
U were the only one to take on one a.........who was very abusive on this platform (also elsewhere).
But I do not agree when u say "how powerfully connected Tejpal is" So u also are scared of power.
Then it is no use living a life of a coward.
It is because of this attitude that a handful of these rogues, rascals and misfits have taken the Country for ride.
Today any rat comes on the road and says aap ko malum nahi mai kaun hu and we shiver.
I say shoo the rat and he will run back into his hole.
Trust me I have....
We have made mountains out of mole hills. Take the recent case...
Will spell it out at a later date when the time comes.

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